Jul 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

 photo IMG_5022_zpsjjbutikp.jpg

from the world's most patriotic penguins

Jun 26, 2015

A Bright And Shiny New Year Lurks In The Distance

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of my husband, the generosity of his boss, and the sacrifice of my niece, I was given the gift of three entire days of child-free school planning. (We were gone five days, but two of those were travel days.) This means that a little over halfway through June I am planned, scheduled and ready to roll for next year. I need to print some maps and lapbooks and planners and such, and I need to shift around all the physical stuff and, of course, wait for the back-to-school sales for supplies, but otherwise I am ready. to. go.

I want to share my plans with you, of course, but first I just want to talk about how last year went. At last we seem to have found our way. Last year was our best, most productive year ever. When I hear a new homeschool mom say she is overwhelmed I totally sympathize because we have been at this for eight years now (if you don't count the fact that I knew I was going to homeschool since I was a teenager) and I am just now finally figuring out how we work best.

We do a sort of Charlotte Mason, project-based, delight-directed, relaxed, with textbooks (occasionally) and online programs (when appropriate) with a drizzle of of classical sort of eclectic thing around here. Back in the day, we dabbled in Montessori and work-boxes which led us to where we are now.

With all that said, I always post about upcoming plans that are shiny, new and exciting. But in the interests of keeping it real, I'm first going to tell you how well last year's plans worked out. Because some were awesome successes and some were dismal failures and some were something in between.

Let's start with what worked.

Math was great. Abbie finished up Beta and flew through the first half of Gamma. She loves getting 100s on her test and she really loves being the first one finished with math every day. She did struggle a bit with borrowing and carrying from time to time and she heartily disliked column addition, but she fought her way through it and won.

Daniel finished Gamma. I was concerned that he would have the same problems with multi-digit multiplication that Kaytie and Nate did, but I tried a little color-coding magic that did the trick and he flew through it.

Kaytie and Nate finished Epsilon. They did struggle a bit in the middle, but Kaytie rallied quickly and moved ahead of Nate, skipping several lessons of review pages and finishing up the book two weeks ahead of her brother. In fact, Nate still has the last unit test and the end-of-the-book test to finish.

We love Math U See and find that it works well for our needs. Both the math lovers and the math haters.

Copywork went well for most of us.

Kaytie has moved beyond just writing practice and was merely required to handwrite something every day. She accomplished this in various ways, writing out her favorite poems, writing her own stories, using journaling prompts, spelling sentences, and narrating for history or science.

Nate still struggles with legible handwriting. He worked on cursive all year. If he is doing it for school, I can read it. Otherwise... sigh...

Daniel learned cursive. His handwriting is amazing. He has the best in the family except for mine.

Abbie learned to print all of her letters beautifully. She already "knew" how to write, now she knows how to do it well. And she got in enough practice that she is ready to start cursive in the fall.

Spelling also went well.

Kaytie and Nate finished up All About Spelling level four. We finally hit our stride and worked enough on it daily that we actually completed an entire level in one year. I am hoping to have them speed right through the next three levels next year and be done with it. We own them all, so there is nothing to slow us down.

Daniel and Abbie finished up level one. There were some lessons that we had to repeat many times before it finally clicked. I have a trick in mind to help us out next year.

Spanish for Kaytie and Nate was great. They worked on Mango until our subscription ran out and then they started Duolingo. They learned enough that they pepper our day with Spanish phrases and they can understand each other and even say things that I don't understand. However, we did not do Flip Flop Spanish at all. This was totally my failing. Whenever we ran out of time this was the first thing to go and then we just forgot about it all together.

Bible went well for everybody. Kaytie and Nate finished up a book and Daniel and Abbie were starting to establish some independence before the year ended. I really love Bible Study Guide.

Grammar ended up being awesome! We discovered Fix It! and fell in love. I have now found our permanent grammar program that we will use forever and forever and forever. Kaytie and Nate finished the first book and will start the second book in the fall. You can read our review here.

Daniel and Abbie made real progress with their reading. They read aloud to me every day and have both become pretty fluent. Right at the end of the year, Abbie decided to read Because of Winn Dixie for fun and that turned out to be the gateway into reading for her. She is now devouring books just like Kaytie and Nate. Three down, one to go.

Now for the subjects that only sorta worked out:

Art was great for Kaytie. She loves the Artistic Pursuits books and works on them independently. She made great strides in her drawing ability and learned some new techniques. Daniel and Abbie didn't do so well. Their "art" quickly degenerated to draw whatever you wanted and they didn't actually learn much.

Writing for Kaytie and Nate was a struggle. We started and stopped and restarted IEW several times. Again, this was mostly my failing but I've re-worked our schedule for next year to address this issue and we will try IEW one more time.

We still didn't finish our Logic book, The Fallacy Detective. I told them just to read the last couple of chapters on their own this summer.

History went well for the most part. We enjoyed it when we did it, but we didn't do it often enough to finish Ancients. I quickly made the easy decision to just stop where we were and continue on next year right where we left off. So what if we don't do a complete history cycle in four years?

And finally, what didn't work out at all:

Philosophy. The kids hated it. I couldn't figure out how to make them independent with the technology set up that we had available. They did a few lessons but weren't retaining anything. I finally just shelved it to revisit when they are a little older.

Science bombed for everybody. There wasn't enough structure nor accountability. But I am not worried about it at all because there is always informal science going on around here. They read it, they do it, they absorb it like sponges and they talk about it non stop.

Latin and Kaytie did not get along. She loved to watch the Visual Latin DVDs but she was less excited about completing the worksheets. Unfortunately that meant she didn't learn much. Sigh. We shall try again next year.

So that's last year all analyzed and wrapped up. Next, I will tell you all about what we are planning and hoping for next year!

Jun 24, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: SmartKidz Media

I put together a lot of my own curriculum and am often stumped when it comes to adding in educational movies to go along. So I was excited to be asked to review SmartKidz Media. We were given access to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers and we have spent the last few weeks exploring the site.

SmartKidz Media Review

So the first thing we discovered is that it isn't just educational videos! This site has a little bit of everything, actually. It's a pretty amazing resource.

First, it's divided into two main sections: Family Media and Reading and Learning Center. Family Media is further divided into two sections: World and Discovery and Music and Fine Arts. World and Discovery is where we started. This section is full of nature videos about animals like elephants, whales, the blue wildebeeste and more. There are several animals in each video as they are themed like Nature's Soap Operas or Cutest Baby Animals or Animal Builders.

But it's not just animals. There are also exercise videos: pilates, exercises for kids and for pregnant women and new mommies and people with backaches. There are videos about different cultures, ancient and unusual. There are history videos and science videos called Bizarre Science and How Did They Make That? There are travel videos, food videos and soon there will even be sports videos.

These are all documentary style, about 25 minutes long with good quality photography and sound. We enjoyed watching them very much. I was pleased to see that they are adding new ones all the time. The history ones weren't there when we started our subscription.

So next is the Music and Fine Arts section and I freely admit we spent a lot of time here. I probably spent the most time here. This has collections of Classical, Cultural, Jazz, and Relaxation music. These are in audio form, not video, but I enjoyed it so much. I loved being able to click on Mozart or Beethoven and listen to their "greatest works" for an hour or two. This also makes it so easy for me to have my kids listen to just one composer for a period of time. We can just start it and go about our business with it quietly playing in the background. I just wish there were more selections.

Next, the Reading and Learning Center is divided into eight sections:

Mighty Ebook Collection, about 150 ebooks which are read aloud with the words highlighted as they are read. There are also sound effects and music. There are sing-along books, Bible stories, science books, Mother Goose, Aesop Fables and just cute little picture books. These are perfect for non-readers or early readers or even struggling readers. My youngest two kids enjoyed a few of these books even though they are slightly above the age range of birth to 8. They especially enjoyed the science books.

Baby Signs Program: a couple dozen videos introducing baby signs. And some videos about potty training. We did not use this section very much but we will likely put a little more time in here when the baby that we watch comes back to us in the fall.

My Animal Family: cute little under 15 minute videos about baby animals in their natural habitat. These are narrated by kids and are just fun for little kids to watch. My older kids rolled their eyes quite a bit at these, but my eight-year-old daughter enjoyed them. There are also "story-songs" in this section which is the video and story of the videos set to a catchy song. They are just cute and fun. :)

Quick Find Study Guides: an old educational tool with a new twist. Language Arts, math, science, social studies (U.S. government and history), with accounting and foreign languages coming soon, these are just little snippets of information that your child can look up and read, as needed. Need to read the Preamble or want the definition of a noun or an encyclopedia style entry on rivers? Here ya go. We didn't spend a lot of time here, but I can see where it would be a great place to send my kids to research on certain science or history topics.

Learning Special Needs: language skills, songs, art, science, everyday life topics and much, much more all designed for kids with disabilities/ special needs.

Living Skills Program: This is still under construction, but will be a collection of songs about responsibility.

Ready Set Sing: over 200 fun animated songs for the eight and under set. Another place we didn't spend a lot of time but that I plan to use with the little guy in August.

Fun Zone: games, jokes and puzzles. Abbie had fun with the games and we all enjoyed the jigsaw puzzles because you could adjust the level of difficulty. The boys especially appreciated the corny jokes and silly limericks.

We used SmartKidz Media on my laptop because that is what we have. But, per the site, it can be used on all "popular multimedia devices". If you are curious as to what exactly that means, or have any other questions about SmartKidz Media here is the link to their FAQ page.

The only con to SmartKidz Media for us so far is that it is still a little light on content. But they apparently are working on that by constantly adding new stuff. They have added a ton in the last few weeks.

Pros are:
the quality of the material that is there
the variety of the material
that I can let my kids watch without worrying about inappropriate ads or what else they might accidently click on
that my hunting time for educational extras just got drastically shortened
that the kids enjoy spending time here
that Composer Study just got a little bit easier

All in all, this is a great resource for us and we plan to use it a lot! If you are interested, check out what other Crew have to say by clicking on the banner below, or just activate a free 14 day trial.

SmartKidz Media Review
Crew Disclaimer

Jun 18, 2015

Ancient History: Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia, Nomads, Sumaria, Hammurabi, and Abraham

This is our third topic of Ancient History and, as you can probably tell from the title, it covered a lot of different things. The first two topics can be found at


Noah and the Ice Age

We read:

The appropriate Mystery of History chapters

The appropriate chapters of Genesis (that dealt with after the Tower of Babel and Abraham)

Adam and His Kin

and not much else... there isn't a lot that is appropriate for children concerning this time period. I summarized some of the different books that I read, let the kids watch  the Star Trek retelling of the story of Gilgamesh, which they loved since we they are science fiction fans, and left it at that.

We did:

One of their favorite activities was trying their hand at cuneiform. I printed off some cuneiform letters and cuneiform numbers, passed out some kinetic sand from Brookstone (because we were out of playdough and I was too lazy to make more), craft sticks and toothpicks, and let them have at it. Playdough would have been better though, because the sand, while super-cool, was a little too soft and yielding to use as clay tablets. It was hard for the kids to write on.

 photo IMG_3246_zps5nurn7ds.jpg

 photo IMG_3247_zpspeq9lqst.jpg

 photo IMG_3248_zpsdq9opccr.jpg

 photo IMG_3249_zpsfqfogb1q.jpg

 photo IMG_3265_zps29kzilog.jpg 

 I also had them write some cuneiform in their notebooks so they had something to keep.

 photo cuneiform notebook entry smaller_zpszuomhxqy.png

 photo IMG_3313_zps6k4wy7pt.jpg

We discussed Hammurabi and his code. We read a lot of this site: You Be the Judge of Hammurabi's Code. We filled out this Laws worksheet (which I found here), which they folded up and put in an envelope. Then they glued the envelope into their notebooks. We spent a lot of time talking about laws and rules and why they are necessary. We read some of Hammurabi's laws and the kids debated if they were fair or not. I was intrigued to find that the Puritan method of determining the guilt/innocence of a witch was actually derived from Hammurabi's code. The kids were aghast at how un-logical this method is. :)

I printed out these animal tracks, cut up the sheets and had them figure out which track was from which animal. Then they glued them into books. While they worked, we talked about nomads, how they lived, and why it was important for them to be able to "read" a track. Then they narrated what they learned while I scribed it into their books.

 photo IMG_3286_zpsjebkutny.jpg

 photo IMG_3289_zps77p9xqhi.jpg

 photo IMG_3304_zps8djaeojr.jpg

 photo IMG_3342_zpszoczcusa.jpg 

 I let them pretend to be a nomad tribe, build a tent, gather food, hunt, track animals, observe nature, and travel as Abraham would have done.

We played the royal game of Ur. Well, sort of. I printed out the game board that she made, but I was not about to attempt the struggle of making triangular dice. So we used regular dice and paper clips to play a slightly tweaked version of the game. Other than the pieces, we stuck to the basic rules and the kids had a lot of fun playing the "oldest game in the world"!

 photo IMG_3282_zps8bpwgufq.jpg

 photo IMG_3276_zpsijuulfph.jpg

 photo IMG_3271_zpsltb8gwpo.jpg

 photo IMG_3269_zpstumk0oip.jpg 

 I printed out some pages from this Mesopotamia lapbook and they cut them up and glued them into their notebooks while we discussed the information.

 photo IMG_3316_zpsfe1aooga.jpg

 photo IMG_3333_zps4gs5atst.jpg

 photo IMG_3325_zpslyh7wgjo.jpg

 photo IMG_3319_zps0uiyowyk.jpg

 photo IMG_3324_zpsygrhypv7.jpg

We used Story of the World and Mystery of History mapping exercises to label these maps.

 photo First Ancient History Maps PicMonkey Collage smaller_zpselks159k.png

What I wanted to do but we didn't get to:

make a ziggurat with Lego, but they did make one on Minecraft
cave painting check this out

Next up, the Egyptians!

Find links to all my ancient history posts at the
Ancient History landing page

Jun 11, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: IEW

IEW Review

I have reviewed products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) before. They put out a lot of products and every time I have used one, I have fallen in love. I love not only the product, but also the company. I've never met another company that exudes care for their customer as much as IEW. 

This time, we received the Deluxe Combo Teacher/ Student Writing Package Level B with Fix It! Grammar Levels 1 and 2  plus A Word Write Now and Portable Walls. It was a lot of material to cover! Now, we've reviewed some of this before. But the teacher materials (TWSS) has been updated recently. So I was excited to see how much better it is now! Because I have had enough experience with IEW to know it would be nothing if not quality.

So here's the thing, I have five different products to write about and any one of them is amazing in and of itself, so, while I'll try to keep it short, this is going to be a long review! I'm going to talk about each product and how we used it individually, so you can just skip around to the parts that most interest you, ok? Or you can bear with me and read it all! :)

First, I will start with Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS). This is a program to teach teachers how to teach writing to kids. It was created by a team of teachers who learned under the 80 year old Canadian Anna Ingram. It consists of a series of lectures on DVD and a notebook/workbook (complete with a binder) for you to follow along and work through the exercises. And there are exercises because you are basically taking the same course you will be later teaching to your kids.

The DVDs contain 14 hours of viewing time so plan plenty of time and several sessions to watch it all. Or you can just watch each unit before you teach it, always keeping ahead of your students. Or you can watch it all and then go back and review before you teach each unit. This is fairly easy to do because it tells you in the student lessons when you need to watch what. That is what I did the first time through. This time, my kids were older and I could sneak off for longer periods of time more regularly so I managed to go through it more quickly. 

 photo IMG_4968_zpsikbdaibx.jpg

Now, if you have used the old TWSS, know that none of the actual content has been changed. It's just been updated with a better layout, subtitles (in English AND Spanish, how cool is that?) and the Premium Subscription. This subscription lets you video stream the entire course, gives you access to monthly webinars, audio downloads and lots of other resources which just magically show up on your account when you register your subscription. In other words, while it is new and improved, it still fits perfectly with the student materials, no need to replace them.

The program is divided into 9 different units. It starts with providing the student with "what to write". Using short, informative paragraphs, the child is guided through learning note-taking and making outlines. This takes up the first two units. 

The third unit teaches them to retell a story. This is to teach them the mechanics of writing without bogging them down in having to make up their own story. My 11 year old son particularly enjoyed this aspect because creative writing is not his strength! 

The fourth unit teaches how to summarize from factual texts. It also introduces topic and clincher sentences.

The fifth unit is about how to look at a picture and extract a story from it. It was my personal favorite because I had actually done this from the time I was a small child. I have a very eclectic-seeming taste in pictures because my kind of picture is the one that tells a story easily. 

After this, the program turns more toward the child creating his own material. Unit six teaches the child to pull facts from not just one source, but from multiple sources. 

Unit seven introduces creative writing... there are no external sources any more. This is when you pull together all the skills learned in the first six units and use it to express yourself. 

Unit eight plunges into essays: formal essays, reports, and a base for research assignments. And finally, the ninth unit teaches the student how to write a book report, called "critiques" in the curriculum. 

Basically, the program is simple. You watch the DVD and use the notebook to do the assigned work. The DVD is a taping of an actual seminar taught by Andrew Pudewa to real people. You watch him teach and see the responses of the students. You see the illustrations he draws on the board and follow along in your own workbook. It's as close to being in a live seminar as you can get while sitting on your own couch. 

I appreciated the quality of the DVD: good sound, good lighting, the ability to rewind, fast forward and skip from chapter to chapter as I needed. And, of course, as anyone who has listened to Mr. Pudewa speak, he is always entertaining and engaging. He's just so much fun to listen to that actually learning something is just the icing on the cake. 

Ok, so. This is the heart of the program. Once you have gone through the TWSS you can then teach your child using these principles. You can even, in theory, use the principles without even using the student part of the program. After one viewing, however, I was not confident enough to do that, so I was pleased to have the Student Writing Intensive (SWI). Kaytie and Nate had worked on level A before (I wrote a review about it) but this time we used B, which is for kids in 4th to 6th grades. 

 photo IMG_2612_zps44f67302.jpg
(an old picture because my son left town on a camping trip before I remembered to have them pose)

The student program is the same style as the teacher's. It's divided into 9 units that are the same as the teacher's. Each unit is further divided into lessons. The child watches the lesson on DVD and then does the exercises using the workbook (which is actually a binder). In the beginning of their book there is a schedule that lays out the work into 30 weeks which gives us a few "extra" weeks because we average about 36 weeks a year. So we just followed the schedule (with one slight variation, since it's a five day schedule and we only school four days a week, we either doubled up or left out some extra practice as needed on each lesson). 

On the first day we watched the lesson. The second day they completed the assignment. On the third day they edited it On the fourth day they retyped their corrected work. On the fifth day they did the extra practice if needed. The second week we did another assignment or two, edited them, and retyped them.  In this way, you can do a lesson every couple of weeks or a unit every month. 

Everything is laid out very simply and my kids (ages 11 and 12) are able to pretty much do it independently. In each lesson you are told where to start and stop the video and then what the exercise is. The kids have worksheets with the assignment on one side and the checklist (which clearly delineates exactly what is expected of them) on the other. The checklist enables them to do the majority of the "checking" themselves because they are required to make sure that they have actually done what is on the list and then to mark it off. 

Kaytie and Nate both like IEW. Nate loved not having to come up with his own stuff in the beginning. They love that they can do it independently. They really loved the having help with spelling and the no erasing rules. Their one real complaint about the program is the length of the DVD lessons. They feel they are too long and packed way too full of information for them to process in one sitting. And it doesn't help that the lessons don't automatically stop when they are supposed to stop watching. Because I forget to pay attention or they forget what to phrase to listen for and sometimes they wind up watching even more than one lesson. This frustrates them. So if this part is ever updated that would be a nice fix! Please have it stop on its own at the end of the lesson or at least make it crystal clear where we are supposed to stop it!

IEW also has a grammar component to their writing program. Fix It! Grammar can definitely stand alone and it isn't necessary to use it with SWI, but they do complement each other very well. The same terminology and methodology is used in both so it made it easier for my kids to internalize them and they learned them just that much more quickly. We were given both book one: The Nose Tree and book two: Robin Hood, but only used book one. Each book is intended to last a year, so we will start Robin Hood in the fall. 

 photo IMG_4974_zpsbgeurowd.jpg

Fix It! was the grammar curriculum that I searched for for years. I have done a full review just on it, which you can read, so I will briefly summarize it here. It consists of a teacher book and a student book. Both are necessary but, as is typical of IEW, they offer a way to keep your costs down. If you buy the TM you receive access to an ebook of the student workbook. You are allowed to print as many copies of these as you need for your family. I loved being able to print off two copies of the worksheets for Kaytie and Nate and we just read over the other pages together (they are in the TM). 

This is how the program works. We go over the lesson material together. For example, in lesson 16, they are taught capitals and contractions. There is a short script that I read to them, elaborating if needed. Then they tackle a sentence, marking the capitals, rewriting the contractions correctly. Then, because they have already been taught nouns, articles, verbs, pronouns, paragraphs and end marks (among other things) they look for and mark them as well. 

Then there is another section in the TM called Fixes and Grammar Notations that we go over. This section answers some of their questions or settles some of our disputes or further explains something that we might have puzzled over. They especially enjoy the notes that begin "Praise your student if..." because they usually have done that quirky thing and they delight in their cleverness. There are also questions in here for them to answer such as, "What are the verbs?", "Who is doing the action?" and "What was your favorite strong verb or quality adjective this week?"

And finally, each sentence has a vocabulary word that the kids are supposed to look up and define. But my kids have a great vocabulary so they just tell me what it means and we go on. 

They are supposed to re-write their sentences with their corrections each day, but I gave up that fight a long time ago. I have some severely writing-phobic kids and they seem to be getting the grammar just fine without fighting that battle.

The sentences that the kids are given are taken from real literature. Over the course of the year/book, they work through the entire story. I really liked that these were not forced, stilted, made-up sentences like most programs use but real, living books. 

We have used Fix It! Grammar all year and simply love it. I fully recommend it and not only will we be using it next year but I have stopped my quest for the "Perfect Grammar for Us" and will only ever use Fix It! for the rest of our school lives. Ever.

 photo IMG_4972_zpsiu8tqyyu.jpg

So, if you are still with me. I have only two more small products to tell you about. One is the Portable Walls. This is a sturdy, full color poster that unfolds and stands alone. It contains "helps" for your student. IEW is all about setting your child up for success and this product does that. It has a list of Dress-ups, Sentence Openers, Decorations, and Triple Extensions along with rules for each. It also has lists of "ly" adverbs, "ly" imposters, prepositions, strong verbs and synonyms for "said". On the back are helps specific to each unit. So my child is empowered with the answers to their basic questions without having to waste time looking it up or coming to ask me. And I don't have the burden of having to remember. Because honestly? Their memories are way better than mine!

And finally, we used A Word Write Now : A Thematic Thesaurus for Stylized Writing. But this is not your common, everyday thesaurus! It's divided into four sections:
  • character traits
  • words to describe
  • words for movement and the senses
  • appendix
The character traits section talks a bit about how to create a character, offers synonym words for the three different character roles and then gives synonyms for adjectives to describe character traits both positive or negative. Then there are lists of synonyms for traits such as anger, courage, or exuberance. There are over 20 character trait lists arranged alphabetically. Each trait also has a definition, a wise quote and excerpt from classical literature. And at the end of the section is a form for the child to put their own topic and make lists. 

The words to describe section has synonyms for appearance, color, size, time, and more. Again, each page is sprinkled with classical literature and quotes and other helps (like phrases). 

The words for movement and the senses section is set up the same and has synonyms for hands, hearing, speaking, etc. 

The appendix has teaching tips, games, definitions of literary devices and more.

So there you go! Congratulations for having made it through the world's longest review post ever! I truly love IEW, both as a company that shows care and concern for homeschooling families and every single one of their products that I have ever used. I love the quality that pervades their curriculum. I love how their philosophy is ever and always helping my kids (and yours, too) succeed in every area of language arts. I love that my kids (mostly) love their products, too! 

Other reviews we have done for IEW
Fix It! Grammar

IEW Review

Crew Disclaimer

Jun 9, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Apologia Field Trip Journal

I have loved Apologia Educational Ministries for a long time. We started reading their elementary science books way back before they were even all printed yet. We have read through several of their worldview books, explored some of their books for moms and a cute little storybook for kids, and enjoyed them all. We even plan on using their middle school science next year. We have reviewed many of their products through the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I have those linked for you at the bottom of this post. So I was delighted to be asked to review their new product: Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal.

 photo apologialogo_zpsb033acf0.png

This is a cute little spiral-bound book. It is in the style of a scrapbook and is full color. The quick way to explain it is that it is a pretty little book for you to capture a record of your field trips. But there is actually a lot more to it than that.

First, there is a section on tips for preparing for your trip. If you are a seasoned veteran of field trips, this is probably not new information for you, but it would still be handy to have a quick checklist all in one place. And for a novice like me, there was some helpful advice in there!

 photo 6224c2ac-a11b-4ef4-8b80-d1e6914d6e59_zpsn5ilbsms.jpg

There are also some ideas of field trips to take. These are divided into these are divided into topics like: plants; animals; business; municipal.  Some of these are kind of common, like the zoo. But some of them I can honestly say I had never considered before like, witnessing an autopsy. I'm not even sure that one's legal, but hey, what's a little crime in the name of education, right?

Next are some pages to list places you/ your child/ your family has been and when. These pages are so cute they jazz up an ordinary list like nobody's business. There are even a couple of maps (a world map and a USA map) for you to label or mark with places you've explored. 

Now we have the field trip pages. These are 2 page spreads. There are enough pages for you to document 10 trips with the following information:

  • location
  • date
  • books read prior to the visit
  • emergency contact plan
  • things you hope to do
  • a photo (or drawing)
  • a short story of the event
  • something you want to always remember

Next are four 2 page spreads that give you a place to document a little nature study. You or your child can journal about your favorite spot in each season: fall, winter, spring and summer. This spot is supposed to be something outdoors, but doesn't have to be anything wildly exciting. You can choose your yard, an empty field, a city park. You just need a little bit of nature. On one page is a place to note your location, the date, temperature, and rainfall. There is a place to glue on a photo (or you could draw a picture) of your spot or something in it. And there is a place to take notes.

On the other page is a grid of 40 squares. It's suggested to use this to draw a map of your spot. But I think this is pretty open-ended and some other ideas for using it would be: a picture/drawing relating to your spot for each square, a word or (if you write small) a sentence relating to your spot for each square, a combo of all of those, or just a series of memories you want to remember about your spot. Or maybe you could glue a picture or a collage of pictures here. Or items you want to save like a flower or a leaf. (I wouldn't do a rock, though, too bulky) 

The last thing in the book is 17 "As I See It" pages. These are for recording memories and experiences in a creative, unique way. Some of the pages have prompts like, movement or earth and some of them do not. 

This was a fun book to explore. I love the scrapbook feel of it and the fact that it was in full color. This makes for a beautiful place to keep your memories. I love the sturdiness of its pages that allows us to be really tough (Painting pictures on the As I See it pages? Or gluing in a keepsake or two? Yes!) without destroying it. And I love that it is a keepsake that the kids will always treasure.

We don't take a lot of field trips, so a book like this will last us awhile. In fact, we haven't taken a field trip since we got the book, (still working out the details of viewing that autopsy don't you know!) but we have enjoyed the nature study pages. All the kids collaborated on documenting our special spot (a local park) in the spring and have filled out several of As I See It pages. 

It's really easy to use this book. We just take it along when we go somewhere and a kid or two does all the work.

Here are our previous Apologia Educational Ministries reviews:

Who Is God?
Who Am I?
What On Earth Can I Do?)
Exploring Creation with Physics and Chemistry
How to Have a Heart for Your Kids
Good Morning God

To read more reviews about the Field Trip Journal, click on the banner below!

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

Crew Disclaimer


Related Posts with Thumbnails